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The Scream: Enzo Ferrari Joins the Ranks of Edvard Munch

In May 2012, Edvard Munch’s eerie expressionist painting “The Scream” sold for a record $120 million. At the time, this historic sale reset the art market and raised eyebrows worldwide. Last week the collector car world may have reached a similar pinnacle with the $70 million private sale of a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO. This stunning transaction has rippled through the market and has dramatically upped the ante on the vintage Ferrari market. This car is likely the priciest Ferrari on the planet and possibly the most expensive car in the world.

David MacNeil, (the founder of WeatherTech accessories) is the proud new owner of this ultra-rare Ferrari—chassis #4153 GT. I met David at Pebble Beach in 2016—he is a very successful entrepreneur with a burning passion for cars. Given his keen appetite for collector cars, the purchase of this 250 GTO may be less about money (or investing) and more about raw obsession. Either way, this car is the perfect addition to his already stunning collection of rare Ferraris.

Collectible cars are now often considered art. With the MacNeil GTO purchase last week, ultra-special Ferraris seem to be closing in on Van Gogh, Warhol, and Picasso value territory. Given the prices that Ferraris of this era and rarity now command, all indications are that Enzo Ferrari’s work may legitimately be joining the ranks of the greatest artists of all time. The frothiness of the last decade has desensitized art collectors to the regular sale of $50 million paintings at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The Edvard Munch painting pushed the market over $100 million—could transactions of $100 million Ferraris be far behind?

Back in the mid-1960’s, Ferrari was struggling to keep the lights on. Ironically, while the Company was fighting for survival, it was concurrently manufacturing cars like the now priceless MacNeil GTO. During this tumultuous period, Ferrari was on the edge financially—at one point Enzo considered selling his fledgling empire to Ford. The deal fell apart, and Ferrari went at it alone—the rest is history. In the 1960’s, Scuderia Ferrari enjoyed unprecedented racing success and its record is the story of legends. The history has been written, and the market has spoken—nothing on the road can compare to a coach built Ferrari with race history from this critical era. If Enzo were alive today, “il Commendatore” would be shocked at the prices these cars now command.

Is the MacNeil GTO a sign of a lunatic market top? Or rather does this record-setting sale usher in the beginning of a new era of stratospheric and legitimate “automobile as art” transactions? Time will tell, but my best guess is that David MacNeil is playing the long game—we could see prices for truly iconic and rare cars (like the 250 GTO) follow the high-end art market and increase significantly over the coming decades. The odds favor that in the distant future GTO #4153 may prove to be “well bought.” In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if the MacNeil GTO is hung on the wall or driven on the streets. David MacNeil is a passionate car guy. Hopefully, he will not just store the GTO in bubble wrap, but instead occasionally drive it and enjoy it.

A recent CNN article on the 250 GTO sale can be accessed here.

The MacNeil 250 GTO at Chantilly

The Ferrari 250 GT

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3 Responses to The Scream: Enzo Ferrari Joins the Ranks of Edvard Munch

  1. Darren Frank June 11, 2018 at 2:06 pm #

    Great, thoughtful, well-researched article adding context to this sale and the market overall.

  2. Philip LePore June 11, 2018 at 12:44 pm #

    Did I beat you to the punch?

    (Below were my thoughts in a June 6th response to a friend and Ferrari owner upon hearing of that GTO sale.)

    Be2ven (be2ven@aol.com)
    To:cdcasarella + 4 more Details

    My observation:

    It seems clear the GTO and pontoon fendered Testa Rossa have become the Mona Lisa’s of the collector car world.

    Their unquestionably beautiful shapes transcend their previous purpose as racing machines. They are now a part of the world of art.

    Like all art icons they too will become priceless some day.

    Will they be exhibited like the Ralph Lauren cars are? Hopefully so.

    But that begs the question of whether something is lost when a vehicle can do no more than look beautiful or purposeful?

    To appreciate the answer one has only to look at the popularity of Goodwood, Monterey and the Historics at Lime Rock!

    While a painting or sculpture belongs on a wall or plinth, those cars of occasion we are drawn to, really belong on a road or track!

    Your thoughts?

    (The recipient, who doesn’t type, said he will tell me in person what he thinks when we gather this weekend!)

  3. Bob Kahrl June 11, 2018 at 11:32 am #

    FIrst i must say that the GTO is awesome. To me, that is. The big question is, what will it represent to collectors fifty years from now? Will the GTO “top out” like Deusenbergs and other great cars of the 20’s and 30’s that are not so wildly appreciated by those of us who have not associated those cars with high living and fast driving. Soon the Pebble Beach obsession with French cars of the late 1930″s will dissipate, as even that conservative group is now being pushed to front cars of the ’50s and ’60s. There must be an emotional connection between a work of art and the collector. Otherwise he is just a speculative investor. I would much rather fork over a seven figure amount for a Lambo than for a Bugatti. That’s because there is an emotional connection between these works of art and my own youth.
    The nice thing about being wealthy enough, as Mr. MacNeil is, to add a car of this cost to his already big collection is that he doesn’t have to worry about what the car will be worth in 50 years. Life is too short to spend worrying about the future state of our present assets after we have departed this life. If one wishes to play car collecting at this level, he should heed J.P. Morgan’s advice as to yachts: “If you have to ask the cost, you can’t afford it.”